Japanese Figure Skater Wins Olympic Gold

Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu became the first Asian to win the men's Olympic figure skating title, in the final medals event Friday at the Sochi Winter Games.

With a point total of 280.09, the 19-year-old Hanyu topped three-time world champion Patrick Chan of Canada and world silver medalist Denis Ten of Kazakhstan.

All three medalists had flawed performances that included crash landings. But Hanyu held on largely because of his 3.93-point lead after Thursday's short program.  The competition took place without Russian skating star Yevgeny Plushenko, who withdrew after injuring his back in warm-ups Thursday.

Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan poses with the national flag after he placed first in the mens free skate figure skating final following the flower ceremony at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics on Feb. 14, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. /AP Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan poses with the national flag after he placed first in the men's free skate figure skating final following the flower ceremony at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics on Feb. 14, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. /AP

Belarus and Switzerland also had big days in Sochi Friday, each winning two gold medals. Belarusian Darya Domracheva dominated the women's individual 15-kilometer biathlon, and teammate Alla Tsuper soared high to win the women's freestyle skiing aerials.

Earlier this week, Domracheva won the 10-kilometer biathlon pursuit, becoming the first female Belarusian to capture a Winter Olympic gold.

Switzerland's Dario Cologna also won his second gold medal of the 2014 Olympics. Skiing in short sleeves on another warm and sunny day in Sochi, he was outstanding in the cross-country 15-kilometer classic. Cologna also captured the 30-kilometer skiathlon in Sochi.

Another Swiss skier, Sandro Viletta, pulled off a surprise first-place finish in the highly anticipated men's supercombined, which consists of one downhill run and one slalom run.

The Swiss now have five gold medals in Sochi, second to Germany with seven. Britain won its first gold in the other medal event Friday, as Elizabeth Yarnold took first in women's skeleton.

In curling, China and Britain won close games to create a three-way tie with Sweden at the top of the men's standings. The British women beat Japan, 12-3, to improve to 3-2 and remain in sight of their big rivals.  Undefeated Canada and 4-1 Sweden were not in action Friday.

In men's hockey, shorthanded Sweden defeated Switzerland, 1-0, to remain undefeated at 2-0. Sweden's Daniel Alfredsson scored with 7:21 left and goalie Henrik Lundqvist had a 26-save shutout.

Sweden said before the game that captain Henrik Zetterberg will miss the rest of the tournament because of a herniated disk, taking a third key player off its roster.

Canada, Finland and the Czech Republic also won in men's hockey.

The United States and Russia meet on Saturday in a game featuring two of the men's hockey powers in Sochi. The U.S. is aiming for a gold medal after a silver in 2010, and Russia is seeking its first gold since 1992.

Russian center Evegni Malkin, a star on the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins, is not taking the U.S. team lightly. "In the case of the Americans, it will be a good test for us, and we of course understand how strong the American team is," Malkin said. "If we go out united in a good mood, then we have every chance of winning."

VOA News / Feb. 15, 2014 08:46 KST